Overall the most blatant and unambiguous message that Disney teaches any child is how to discriminate between races.
The crows in “Dumbo”, released in 1941 when racism against African Americans was more acceptable, is probably the most blatant example. The language and attire of the birds are clearly intended to mock African Americans. The characters exist only to help the white protagonist, and contribute mainly comedic value amongst white audiences, adding insult to injury on the already glaring stereotype.
Another example is the Chinese cat from “The Aristocats”, who sings about fortune cookies (invented in America incidentally) with an almost unintelligibly Asian accent. Disney has been blasted time and again for racism and yet it continues to perpetuate glaring stereotypes.
What’s up guys? Is this really needed?
Now many would feel inclined to offer Disney some leniency here, given that it is targeting children with its films, but many others would condemn them for sugar-coating themes of death and deceit with fluffy singing animals and perfect happy endings.
Take “The Lion King” – a film based on William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy “Hamlet”.
Disney altered the original ending of the play, in which many of the central characters die, and replaced it with a perfect triumph of good over evil, firmly rendering the plot meaningless and holding up a giant middle finger to Shakespeare in the process.
However “Hamlet” isn’t the only literary masterpiece Disney have butchered on screen. Take the plot structure of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid” and you will find another drastically altered ending. In the original, Ariel does not marry the prince and is forced to kill him to regain her mermaid tail, but she cannot perform the deed and instead dies sadly.
I guess you can condone Disney changing such horrible endings into better stories for kids, but why make them at all if they were so bad?
Although perhaps something of a controversial entry, visible evidence exists which suggests Disney uses subtle themes of Satanism in their films.
1) The beast of “Beauty and the Beast” is portrayed as a horned creature with fangs, resembling a traditional image of Lucifer.
2) Philoctetes in “Hercules” is also displayed in this form, with horns and cloven-feet.
3) Chernabog in Fantasia, by far the most noticeable of the demonic figures in Disney movies.
4) The most bizarre, albeit most controversial case is perhaps in Disney’s adaptation of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”.
It has been argued that eight-year-old Lucy’s meeting with Mr. Tumnus involves a subtle theme of pedophilia: the stranger (incidentally portrayed with goat legs and horns) persuades Lucy to visit his home before putting her to sleep by playing lullabies on his flute. The next thing we know, Lucy wakes to find Mr. Tumnus crying and saying that he has “done something very bad”: in the context of the story Tumnus betrayed Lucy to the White Witch. Despite the evidence of a darker theme, many critics of the theory have suggested the sequence simply represents the consequences of children trusting strangers.
Why is Disney putting all of this in their films? I don’t know, but it’s honestly worrisome that they do this.
The film “Beauty and the Beast” works on the pretense of “looks don’t matter”. However a closer look at the plot structure reveals this as a false front. In the climax of the film the beast transforms back into a handsome human form, thus allowing him to live happily ever after with the equally attractive Belle.
This totally contradicts the film’s supposed message of “looks don’t matter”, because if that were true, why is the transformation needed? “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” also does this with the main character being physically deformed. However, the message is again twisted when a new handsome character in the form of Captain Phoebus is introduced to marry Esmeralda instead of the protagonist, who of course is not worthy of her because of his ugliness.
Maybe, Beast should have stayed a beast, and Esmeralda should have married the Hunchback of Notre Dame. They would have helped each films point of “looks don’t matter”.
In almost every Disney movie the primary antagonist is portrayed as physically unattractive, encouraging children to associate this character trait with evil.
Female characters are particularly subjected to this treatment, all having at least one of the “Big Three” of Disney villain characteristics: being fat (Ursula in “The Little Mermaid”), old (The Old Woman in “Snow White”) or hideously ugly (The Ugly Stepsisters in “Cinderella”).
The bottom line is that Disney openly preaches that attractiveness is synonymous with both morality and happiness. Disney villains are often portrayed as insecure about their appearance, which then causes them to take it out on younger, slimmer, better-looking characters.
For example the villain of “Snow White” is obsessed with being the “fairest of them all”, and the ugly stepsisters bully and abuse innocent beautiful Cinderella.
The only time I’ve seen Disney give a “ugly” character a leading good role, was in “Hunchback of Notre Dame” with Quasimodo, but he still didn’t get the girl in the movie. Phoebus did.
Again, nice morals Disney.